Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Failure.....That Wasn't

We're all guilty of the occasional kitchen blunder....the recipe that the kids hated, the cake that fell, the tried-and-true side dish that didn't turn out right this time. I know I've had my share! And most folks probably toss out the failure without a second thought. It's okay if you've done that - I won't tell! But if you think about it, some of the things we use every day were created because of a "failure" to make something else! So instead of a spoiled batch of whatever, you now have an opportunity to create something new and different for your family!

Last fall I bought some cherries to make my husband's favorite cherry jam. I used the same pectin that I always use, and followed the procedure the way I've always done it. I timed everything and properly canned the jars. But instead of a lovely gelled product, I ended up with a slightly thickened liquid. Talk about disappointment!! But I went ahead and put it in the cabinet anyway. This morning, I made a batch of pancakes, and the kids loved the "cherry syrup" that I heated for them to pour over the top. We've had cherry yogurt where I've added the failed jam to thick store-bought yogurt. We've even had a poke cake with the cherry jam poured over it instead of unset jello. The point is that I'm using all the cherry jam that technically failed, and it's really good!!!

Another creative moment was when I baked a cake that stuck terribly in the middle. I don't know why, but apparently I didn't grease the center well. When I tried to remove the cake from the pan, It fell into a few pieces. I was quite upset, but decided to make something good out of the situation. I ended up tearing the cake into pieces and layering them in a glass bowl with sliced strawberries and Cool Whip. I even made a simple strawberry glaze and layered that in there, too. Instead of cake, we had a strawberry shortcake trifle, and nobody even knew it was a mistake!! :-)

I tried a new recipe for granola in the crock pot. Yuck. It never set up like granola, and I basically ended up with slightly flavored oats. I came really close to tossing out this mess, but instead I put it into storage containers to see if I could find a use for it. It worked pretty well for an apple pie topping, and I've also used it on muffins prior to baking. I still have some left and am contemplating trying to substitute it in cookies for the standard oats.

The point is, even when you have a kitchen goof, all is not lost. You can probably find a great use for what you have created, and it's possible that nobody will ever know that the end result was not the planned outcome. Have fun with it!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I'm in a Magazine!

If you read the wonderful magazine, "All You," you will find ME in the current issue!!! I submitted a grocery tip that they chose to publish. My tip and photo are at the top of page 22! It's very weird, but kind of exciting, to see myself in one of my favorite magazines. They edited my tip, but it's still basically what I said.

Let me know if you see it!!! :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spaghetti Noodles

On Friday night, my birthday girl asked for spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. We had lots of leftovers! On Saturday, I made a meatball pizza to use up the meatballs and sauce - it was great! But I still had a bowl full of spaghetti noodles in the fridge, and nobody really wanted to have regular ol' spaghetti again. Since leftover noodles are fairly common, I thought I would share a couple of recipes to use them up!

Shrimp Pasta (this is what we had tonight)

2 T. butter/margarine
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
Minced garlic to taste
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. sour cream or yogurt
About a half-pound of cooked spaghetti or other pasta
Optional: To add some color, you can add spinach leaves, mushrooms, or something similar that you like (and have leftover....)

Melt butter in saucepan. Saute garlic and shrimp until the shrimp "pink up." (Also, saute the spinach leaves or mushrooms in this step.)

Stir in the milk, parmesan, and sour cream/yogurt until blended. Add pasta and toss gently to coat. Cook until heated through and sauce has attached to pasta and thickened.

The kids LOVE this dish!

Another use that my DH and I really enjoy, but that isn't quite as popular with the kids is this one:

Spaghetti Salad

About 3/4 lb. cooked spaghetti/pasta
1 lb. frozen broccoli florets
3 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1 t. minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 cans solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked

Cook broccoli according to package directions and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in tomatoes and tuna. Add noodles and broccoli and toss to coat.

Serve at room temperature or chilled, whichever you prefer. You can also make this with leftover chicken if you have it. It's an interesting twist on pasta salad. Another option is to omit the garlic and salt and pepper and stir in some bread dip seasoning if you have it. And that oil/vinegar/seasoning mixture?? It makes an AWESOME dip for bread, too!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

A couple of nights ago, we had Chicken Parmesan for dinner. One of the breasts was HUGE and we ended up with a large chunk of leftover chicken, some sauce, and some spaghetti noodles. The kids informed me that Chicken Parmesan was only good on the first day and would not eat it for lunch the next day. So, I was left with this:

I needed a lunch for the kids and I, so I came up with the idea of creating a Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Bread. Sounds a bit out-of-the-ordinary, but it was really good! They loved it. I just smile - it isn't good unless it's wrapped in bread?? Kids!!

I loaded my bread machine about 8:30 this morning with a nice french bread recipe. I pulled out the dough when it was done and rolled it out on my baking stone:

I took that leftover chicken and cubed it up, spreading it along the center of my dough like so:

Then I added some parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella:

I braided the dough over the filling:

And let it rise nicely. I popped it into a 400° oven for about 30 minutes and it came out nicely browned. Take a peek:

We had these wonderful slices for our lunch, and all three kids loved them:

There was enough sauce and spaghetti left for a side dish, too!

So it might be a little bit different use for leftover Chicken Parmesan, but creativity is such an important factor in frugality. Isn't something unique and delicious much better than wasting leftover chicken?? And I got a whole other meal for everyone out of what one person might have eaten as it was! You have to love that!